Thursday, August 27, 2020

BEQ 9:28 (Ade) 


LAT 5:20 (GRAB) 


NYT 12:04 (Ben) 


WSJ 10:39 (Jim P) 


Universal 6:32 (Jim Q) 


The Fireball is on hiatus until September.

Nancy Stark and Will Nediger’s New York Times crossword—Ben’s review

My times have been slower than usual all week, but figuring out what was going on with Nancy and Will’s grid today truly took me a minute:

NYT 0827 – 08/27/2020

  • 17A: Discussing — TALKIN[G AB]OUT
  • 33A: Discussing — WHADDA[YA K]NOW
  • 40A: Obstacle-based competition show, informally — NIN[JA W]ARRIOR
  • 58A: Windbag, as seen three times in this puzzle? — CHATTERBOX

We’ve got three CHATTERBOXes in the grid, affecting both the acrosses above and their respective downs – BU[GAB]OO (6D, “Cause of dread”), KAYAK (26D, “White-water rental”), and [JAW]AS (41D, “Scavengers on Luke Skywalker’s home planet”).


Elsewhere in the fill:

  • I have somehow never encountered the word CACHINNATE before.
  • Apologies to ATHENS OHIO – I spent too long figuring out how to make “US City named for a European capital” the ATHENS in Georgia.
  • PHLEGM is such a great word.

Stay safe!  Happy Thursday!

Michael Schlossberg’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Financial Sectors”—Jim P’s review

Cute theme. CORNER THE MARKET (38a, [Monopolize, and a hint to four squares in this puzzle]) is the theme, and in each corner we find rebussed words that can precede “market.”

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Financial Sectors” · Michael Schlossberg · Thu., 8.27.20

  • STOCK market in the NW with 1a STOCK PILE and 1d STOCK ADE
  • BLACK market in the NE with 10a JET BLACK and 13d BLACK LIST
  • FREE market in the SW with 65a FREE WAY and 47d SCOT FREE. This last one (SCOT FREE) is my favorite of the theme entries. Anyone have any insight into the history of this phrase?
  • MASS market in the SE with 67a LAND MASS and 58d SAY MASS

I’m not sure how I sensed this was going to be a rebus grid, but I guess something felt off in those corners as I was solving. The revealer just confirmed it with a perfect grid-spanning phrase.

I like the fill today with LOVELORN, RUTABAGA, celeb PET CAUSES, and Stephen King’s CHRISTINE. Also, JOBURG, PRISSY, MOHAIR, and BRUTAL, but not so much LTCOLS.

I must have heard [1974 Mocedades hit] ERES TU sometime in my life (see video below), but it just looks like longish crosswordese in the grid.

Clues of note:

  • 19a. [Destination for yoga vacations]. BALI. This is not something I would know anything about. People go on “yoga vacations”?
  • 29a. [Cue ball cover]. RUG. I’m guessing clue and answer are slang for head and hairpiece, respectively.
  • 35a. [Goes over a mushroom cap?]. ODS. Eww, we’re making light of the act of ODing? Doesn’t sit well with me.
  • 47a. [Found, e.g.]. START. Why the “e.g.”?
  • 63a. [Lifeless]. ARID. I don’t equate these two.
  • 40d. [Swede in Britain]. RUTABAGA. I can confirm this, having lived in England for seven years. But I still don’t see where they get off calling this root vegetable a “swede.” Do Swedes have a similar thing they call “Englishmen”?
  • 51d. [Pull teeth?]. UNZIP. I don’t think you’re actually “pulling” teeth when you’re unzipping, but I liked this clue nonetheless.

Nice theme and good fill. 3.8 stars.

Andy Morrison’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

So although the clues suggest the theme is “sandwiches”, three quarters are long ones: grinder, hero & sub. Club is odd one out in that regard. Each of three definitely repurpose real-world phrases that have nothing to do with sandwiches: racy MILEHIGHCLUB, LOCALHERO and ORGANGRINDER. And then there is MARINESUB. I can find no real word with that meaning. Either I’m completely missing something OR this answer has been lifted carelessly from the 28 December 2010 Robert Doll NY Times and no-one from then on noticed, which seems… unfathomable?

Not really able to focus on the rest of the puzzle, but I do note a few unusually difficult words:
STELA an [Inscribed pillar] that you may have seen in archaeology stills without knowing its name.
Similarly the ZORI is that stereotypical thick sandal in traditional Japanese dress. I’d say considerably more Westerners can recognize it visually than name it!
I have no idea what a CRUSE is, but the clue says [Small earthen pot]. The dictionary says “archaic”, which is helpful…


Richard Shlakman and Will Nediger’s Universal crossword — “BBQ Blend” – Jim Q’s Write-up

I’ve been on a grilling kick lately, so this one’s up my alley!

THEME: The word GRILL is “mixed” (jumbled) in common phrases.

Universal crossword solution · “BBQ Blend” · Richard Shlakman · Will Nediger · Thur., 8.27.20


  • 17A [Metaphorically giddy one] SCHOOL GIRLDo people still say they’re as giddy as a school girl? Seems weird.
  • 30A [“No need to worry”] IT’S ALL RIGHT. Not to be confused with IT’S ALRIGHT!
  • 48A [Art of writing?] CALLIGRAPHY. 
  • 64A [Dish with numerous meats, or a hint to each set of circled letters] MIXED GRILL. 

Let me get this out of the way first, since it’s a long-running complaint of mine: I don’t know why Universal runs (so, so many!) circle-dependent themes when they can’t offer circles to the masses. Universal grids that feature circles are available on this site, but nowhere else. When you’re asking solvers to count letters, circle them, and unscramble them, it’s a bit much, especially to the solver. So much more pleasant when circles are present. I’m told circles are coming soon… So… why not just hold off on the circle dependent themes until that’s straightened out?

Anyway, the puzzle itself was good! I especially enjoyed the fill and some of the clues. I really struggled with 55D [Cover, as a cloverleaf] PAVE. I had ?AVE and had to run the alphabet twice before I figured that out. What a great clue! (yeah… for some reason I couldn’t see SPUNK either). Finally nailed the answer for [Muhammad’s boxing daughter] LAILA since contributor pannonica from this site noted that her name uses only the letters found in ALI. 52A was another good one with [Garment around Steve Nash?] SASH. That’s cryptic since the word SASH is found “around” the name Steve NashI like the British cryptic style clues sneaking in American crosswords. 

The clue for 71A [Teachers write them] TESTS could also be [Teachers search for hours on the internet for decent ones before giving up and writing them]. Just sayin’.


Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword (No. 1291), “Musical Parts”—Ade’s take

Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword solution, No. 1291: “Musical Parts”

Good day, everybody! Hope you’re all doing well, and for those residing in parts of the Gulf Coast and the Southeast, hope you’re staying safe with Laura’s landfall.

Today’s puzzle involves music making the body move…well, actually, it’s parts of the body making the music move! Puns are created from musical phrases by creating an extra sound that doubles as a name of a part of the human body.

  • DELIVER MINOR (20A: [Drop off the kid at day care? (I hear you got an organ that creates bile)]) – D minor + liver.
  • NUTHIN BUT A GENIE THANG (36A: [With 42 -Across, “Aladdin” production with only the wish granter? (I hear you got a patella)]) – “Nuthin’ but a “G” Thang” + knee. I remember when “Nuthin’ but a “G” Thang” came out and played the hell out of that album (The Chronic). Can’t believe the song is almost 30 years old now!!
  • PINOCHLE FUNK (56A: [Card game with a bad smell? (I hear you got a finger joint)]) – P-Funk + knuckle.

Of all things to think about after finishing the puzzle, the Murray’s Cheese food shop in Lower Manhattan popped into my head because it’s been forever since I’ve bought some PECORINO Romano cheese from there to go with the unsalted crackers that I buy with regularity (9D: [Cheese made from ewe’s milk]). That, plus the Drunken Goat cheese, where cheese is cured in Doble Pasta red wine, are my favorites! OK, time to stop thinking about food. Let’s think about ZOOT suits and my first memory of seeing that suit being the Tom and Jerry cartoon where Tom is dressed up in one (66A: [Kind of suit in the ’40s])

The long fill down the middle of the grid was a nice element to it, with some real appetizing entries like SOURDOUGH included (6D: [Bread popular in San Francisco]). Might need to see Goodfellas once more after seeing HENRY HILL (37D: [Ray Liotta’s “Goodfellas” role]). My past encounters with a PAPAW have left me thinking it is much more like a mango than a banana, but I definitely I can understand the custard-y resemblance as well (9A: [Banana-like fruit]). Won’t be making it down to the Southwest portion of the U.S. anytime soon given the pandemic, where I was introduced to the fruit. Maybe I’ll find some up north and try it before too long.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BOGGS (33D: [His No. 26 was retired by the Red Sox]) – Former Major League Baseball third baseman Wade Boggs was known as one of the most superstitious men in sports, as one of his pre-game rituals being to eat fried chicken before every game. Boggs was also one of the game’s all-time great contact hitters, as he won five batting titles, including four consecutive occurrences between 1985 and 1988. After his time in Beantown, Boggs played for the hated New York Yankees, where he won his only World Series title in 1996. Boggs ended his career with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and it was while playing for the Devils Rays where he became the first player in MLB history to collect his 3,000th hit with a home run. Boggs was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005.

Thank you so much for your time, everyone! Have a great rest of your Thursday, and hope you have a good weekend coming up!

Take care!


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13 Responses to Thursday, August 27, 2020

  1. Jenni Levy says:

    CACHINNATE is new to me and looks ridiculous, so when I finished and didn’t get Mr. Happy Pencil, I spent a long time trying to figure out what was wrong with it. Turns out I had a type elsewhere in the grid. I loved the theme. That particular piece of fill made the puzzle far less enjoyable.

  2. ktd says:

    For me, CACHINNATE evoked the grids of Bob Klahn, Karen Tracey and others, written perhaps 10-15 years ago, when it was not uncommon to uncover wonderful words like OCHLOCRACY and KATZENJAMMER. I can’t recall seeing vocabulary like this in many of Will Nediger’s puzzles (he filled the grid, per the constructor notes), but I hope he’ll continue to experiment with using words like this in his long fill.

    • Steve Manion says:

      I agree. I did not know CACHINNATE, but was happy to learn it. It uses 7 different letters, so it has Spelling Bee pangram potential.
      My all-time favorite puzzle had four 11-letter synonyms for boasting: BRAGGADOCIO, FANFARONADE, RODOMONTADE, and JACTITATION.


      • Huda says:

        haha, those are hilarious… cachinnating here (almost).

      • Art Shapiro says:

        Agree on the memorable puzzle cited by Steve!

        Tough crowd today. I’ve rarely met a rebus I didn’t like, and this one was no exception. I too enjoyed discovering CACHINNATE, and my only grumble was the completely obscure JAWAS.

  3. Kevin Morrison says:

    WSJ question – scot free:
    “No, this term is not related to the supposed penurious nature of those living in the north of Britain. Rather, it derives from scot meaning a payment or tax. So to get off scot free is literally to get away without paying taxes. The word appears during the Middle English period and is related to the Old English sceot, a type of coin, but the exact relationship is uncertain. The Middle English word may be the same word, from the Old Norse skot, or it may be a cognate borrowed from the Old French escot. “ (

  4. marciem says:

    Same similar experience as Jenni… empty box somewhere else made me feel like there was a rebus hidden in cachinnate. Just didn’t look right.

    I say to myself “oh good” when I see the rebus signal, and they often get a 5 from me, they’re a favorite. One star down for cachinnate in a rebus puzzle, plus half star back up for introducing me to a new word… :) .

  5. Billposter says:

    Anybody else have trouble opening NYT in Cruciverb and the NYT site today?

  6. Billy Boy says:

    PHLEGM sums up my overall for the puzzle. just ugh *** patooie, not Tatooie

    WHADD(YAK)NOW & BU(GAB)OO || (JAW)AS as theme/crossers?

    Could have at least clued BUGABOO as the British Columbia mountain range to learned us sum moooore

    getting disappointed in the NYT puzzles Cluingz & Fillz /r


  7. RM Camp says:

    Oof that NYT was *rough* and I’m glad I’m not alone in feeling it.

  8. David says:

    The NYT was a rare DNF for me today, and what little I figured out was no fun. I’m all for learning words, but that CACA isn’t one I’ll ever see — let alone use— again. The puzzle has enough bad fill that I didn’t needa word like that to just confuse things more. And I normally love rebuses, so this stung even more.

  9. Rahsaan says:

    On the Universal, it seems repetitive for the answers of 37A & 40A- “ok dear” & “ear”, respectively.

  10. Chris says:

    Rutabagas are also called Swedish turnips , the word itself Is a derivative of the Swedish word

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